With ancient Cathar castles, the lofty Pyrenees and a coastline strung with fishing villages turned gastro hotspots, the Languedoc’s revitalised wine industry is the icing on the regional cake. We’re staying at the stylish Château Les Carrasses, a 19th-century castle turned wine resort where a collection of chic apartments and villas are surrounded by acres of carefully tended vines. At the chateau’s brasserie we try the Château’s own wines, including a fresh but rich chardonnay with hints of pineapple and citrus.
A tour of another winery, Château Capitoul with specialist local operator Vin en Vacances includes a guided tasting on a balcony overlooking the beautiful La Clape, a terroir so unique it has its own sub-appellation. The Rocaille (€11 per bottle) is an outstanding, full-bodied red with notes of pepper and strawberry.
All Les Carasses’ suites come with kitchens so it’s well worth exploring the local markets. Narbonne’s Les Halles is a must-visit: pick up some fat lucques olives at Le Royaume de l’Olive and a bottle of the region’s zesty, bone-dry picpoul. When you’re shopped out, order a bavette steak (fresh from the neighbouring butchers) with chips and salad (€12) at the market’s character-full in-house restaurant Chez Bebelle.
Suites at Chateau Les Carrasses start from €125 per night (lescarrasses.com). Flights from Luton or Gatwick to Montpellier from £85 return (easyJet.com), and from Bournemouth, East Midlands, Prestwick, Liverpool or Stansted to Carcassonne from £53 return (Ryanair.com). More info: sunfrance.com
Written in October 2014